South Carolina is among 11 states that are in a full-blown race to become the site of a $1.6 billion manufacturing facility that automakers Toyota and Mazda plan to jointly build in 2021. The new manufacturing campus will create 4,000 good paying direct jobs and thousands of other indirect jobs to build about 300,000 cars a year.
The Japanese automakers recently issued a request for proposals from the Midwest, mid-Atlantic and South under the code name Project Mitt. Other states on the short list according to the Wall Street Journal are Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina and Texas. The Toyota-Mazda partnership asked state economic development officials to deliver preliminary proposals, to include potential tax incentives, job training programs, a dependable labor force and infrastructure investments. The South Carolina Commerce Department declined to confirm plans to the Post & Courier to pursue the economic development proposal.
Those were key factors for Mercedes-Benz and Volvo Cars in recent decisions to each build $500 million manufacturing plants in the Charleston area. South Carolina’s right-to-work laws will be a key factor in any decision to choose the state to build the manufacturing campus. South Carolina’s Upstate also is home to the biggest BMW manufacturing plant. The state has more than 400 automotive suppliers that generate about 66,000 jobs.
The automakers are looking for more than 1,000 acres and have been evaluating sites in the 11 states, including South Carolina, for about six months according to the Post & Courier. Toyota plans to build the Corolla compact car, while Mazda will use the facility to build crossover vehicles that combine features of both passenger cars and sport-utility vehicles for the North American market.
The opportunity to generate the large number of jobs as a result of the opening of a new automotive plant is rare since it is only the fourth U.S. assembly plant in a decade to be built. Toyota is taking the long view and is planning to keep the manufacturing facility up and running for at least the next 50 years. “You have to be able to say you’ve got the workforce, you’ve got the land, you’ve got the transportation systems and rail spurs, community college and education and a place where people want to live,” said Kristin Dziczek, director of industry, labor and economics at the Center for Automotive Research. “Once you’ve got all that, tax incentives come into play.”
Source: “Report: S.C. in running for auto plant,” August 10, 2017, Post and Courier
Source: “With code name, how Toyota-Mazda set off secret race for 4,000 jobs,” August 19, 2017 USA Today
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